The exact date of the beginning of cotton is unknown, however pieces of cotton fabric cloth found in Mexican caves dates back at least 7,000 years old. The cotton was found to be much like the cotton we grow today. Cotton was being grown and spun into fabric in Pakistan as far back as 3,000 BC. It is known that about the same time cotton fabric was being used by Egyptians in the Nile OEKO-TEX® TEXTILE Valley. By 800 AD cotton had spread across Europe by Arab merchants. Christopher Columbus found cotton growing in the Bahama Islands when he discovered America in 1492. By the early 1500s, cotton was used throughout the world for making fabric. In the United States the first cotton seed were believed to be planted in Florida in 1556. Shortly thereafter in 1607 farms in Virginia along the James River were producing cotton.
Cotton fibers were first spun into fabric by machines in 1730 in England at the beginning of their industrial revolution. However, a new machine invented by Eli Whitney revolutionized mass production of cotton for use in the textile industry. In 1793 the Cotton Gin was patented. This new invention could harvest the cotton 10 times faster than by hand. The cotton gin made it possible to supply the needed cotton and the value of the U S Cotton crop rose from $150,000 to more than 8 million dollars.
Cotton is still today harvested by a modern day version of the cotton gin where the cotton seeds are removed and the cotton fibers, called lint, are bailed and sent to the factories. At the textile mill machines open the bails and clean and mix the cotton lint. This is done by blowing and beating the lint. The cotton fibers are separated into long and short fibers. The short fibers, usually shorted than one inch, are sent out for use in other industries. The long fibers, measuring from 1″ to 1 ¾ ” long are fluffed up and deposited into the carding machine. The carding machine further cleans the cotton fibers and lines them up side by side in the same direction. By combing and cleaning the fibers, the carding machine makes the fibers into a soft untwisted rope called a sliver.